St Botolph's Priory

St Botolph's Priory

Ancient cities in the heart of Essex

Tucked away in your primary school day memories is a thriving Roman city in the county of Essex - in fact, the capital of Roman Britain.

The place we’re talking about? Colchester, of course. And that’s not the last of the awards the city boasts. Colchester is one of the oldest recorded towns in the country.

Signs of Colchester’s old life

With age so often comes a wealth of history and culture, and Colchester is no different. Dotted throughout the city are signs of its long and intriguing past, perhaps none more impressive than St Botolph’s Priory.

The remains of the 12th-century priory emerge like a skeletal hand. Huge, singular pillars stretch up which would’ve once supported the priory roof. But now that the roof is gone, it’s easy to imagine them once reaching up further, holding up the sky above.

All that’s left of the priory now is the nave, the central part of the church, but the magnificence of the remains is truly spectacular.

The west front stands as one of the most impressive aspects of the site. It still stands, a scarred face of the old priory which has watched the city of Colchester grow up around it.

Historical significance

The monks of St Botolph’s would’ve permanently lived within the priory, their lives dedicated to God and revolving completely around religion.

As you’re surrounded by the actual stones where people living 900 years ago once stood, it’s impossible not to reflect on the ways that were once so normal to them.

Open spaces and award-winning art

Where the rest of the priory once stood is now an open green space, perfect for recharging the batteries for a short while.

After you’re done digging deep into the past, there’s no better way to come back to the present than a trip to Firstsite, an award-winning gallery empowering the surrounding community to get creative.

It's nearby the priory and a great way to round off the day before heading home.

We don’t know if it’ll be the history, surrounding city, or future art exhibitions that draw you back to Colchester. But one thing is for certain: when scheduling your day, you'll find you have a few moments spare for a trip back to the priory.

1 St. Botolphs Street,
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